As Jeff Jarvis posts, It’s an exciting time for government transparency advocates, (“government in the Google age”)as they rightly hope and think that the favorable winds are blowing to part clouds and let a certain amount of sunlight in. I particularly like the “fail fast” encouragement that Jeff offers the federal government, although I reserve my skepticism:
We have to give permission to fail. In speaking with government people about What Would Google Do?, I’ve learned how much they fear failure and how cautious that makes them. Without the license to fail, government will never experiment, never open up, and never be collaborative.
But two things always strike me in these discussions. The first is that in the inevitable discussion of “empowering the endpoints,” what gets lost is that civilian who acutally will take the tools of the Sunlight Foundation in hand anytime soon and is a rare bird in need. More abundant and powerful transparency tools will require more, not less, journalists to wield them effectively. Secondly, most of this hopeful focus is at the federal level. The states remain the murkiest from a fundamental transparency standpoint, and its received wisdom that journalistic coverage of the capitols is circling the drain.